PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Rusney Castillo made his Triple-A debut Tuesday night and helped the Pawtucket Red Sox to a 3-2 victory over the Durham Bulls in Game 1 of the best-of-five Governors’ Cup finals at McCoy Stadium.
Castillo led off for the PawSox and played all nine innings in center field. It’s the first time he’s played nine innings in the field since signing with the Red Sox. He went 1-for-4, including two strikeouts.
“It felt good and it definitely was good to pull out a win in a tight game. I got more comfortable as the game progressed,” Castillo said, with the help of translator Laz Gutierrez, who is the Sox’s player development programs coordinator.
“He’s an athlete, you can tell. There’s no doubt about it,” PawSox manager Kevin Boles said. “There’s a lot to be interested about there. He stands out.”
In his first at-bat for the PawSox, Castillo struck out looking on a 96 mph fastball from Durham starter Enny Romero. In the second inning, Castillo struck out swinging on a 96 mph fastball from Romero.
“Maybe I was a little overaggressive early on,” Castillo said. “My third AB I tried to not be as aggressive.”
Castillo registered his first Triple-A hit in the bottom of the fourth inning -- a hard-hit ground ball off the glove of Bulls third baseman Cole Figueroa. Castillo then attempted to steal second and showcase his speed, but Durham catcher Ali Solis threw him out.
“We’re letting him play,” Boles said. “He’s going to get his at-bats and we’re going to watch him. We’re going to feel him out, as far as his positioning on defense, as far as him running the bases, but we’d rather him be aggressive, play his game. We’re just evaluating at this point. We’re just going to let him play and see how he fits in here. He’s done a nice job.”
Castillo popped out to shallow right field in his fourth at-bat.
After the game, he said he’s comfortable with the way the Red Sox are allowing him to play his aggressive style.
“That feels good. It gives me confidence that the Red Sox are allowing me to play my game, the game that I’ve played since Cuba,” he said. “It definitely gives me confidence.”
Prior to his Triple-A debut, Castillo played a total of six playoff games (two for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and four for Double-A Portland). He went 6-for-19, with 2 doubles, 2 walks, 3 RBIs, 1 stolen base and 4 runs scored.
So far, he’s been pleased with his progression.
“Yeah, it’s been good. Obviously, it’s been a gradual step from one level to the other and it’s helped me find my game, which has been beneficial since I haven’t played in a year and a half,” Castillo said. “It’s getting back to that daily grind and playing every day, getting the live ABs and being able to make in-game adjustments is something I haven’t done in a while.”
During his brief stints with the GCL Red Sox and Double-A Portland, other than getting used to game situations again, Castillo said he wasn’t surprised by anything.
“Nothing,” he said. “It’s just baseball. I’m trying to improve and get better. It’s baseball.”
Castillo was all smiles when he arrived Tuesday afternoon at McCoy Stadium. He realizes he’s another step closer to achieving his dream of playing in the major leagues. He’ll play for the PawSox until their season is over, then he’ll likely get at look at the big-league level with the Red Sox before the end of the 2014 season. Boston has 17 games remaining.
He’ll admit it’s been a challenge to control his emotions.
“It’s human nature to think about the big leagues and playing for the Red Sox at some point, but I’m focusing on every level I’m at. I have my mind on the moment, and improving and getting better,” he said.
Since arriving in Boston on Aug. 22 as the newest member of the Red Sox organization, Castillo has focused only on baseball. If he’s not playing baseball, he said he’s been hanging out in a variety of hotel rooms around the Sox’s minor-league system, listening to music.
On the field, Castillo continues to work off the rust, but he’s been happy with the transition.
“I’m focusing on the process, which is the only thing I can control. But it’s also a good feeling to see results, see the discipline and hard work pay off,” he said.